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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 May 2017 Second Circuit Takes Second Look at Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII

  The issue of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is in the hot seat once again, this time being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as part of an en banc rehearing granted in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. d/b/a Skydive Long Island. The grant of the rehearing, to include all active judges and those senior judges involved in the original appeal, comes after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New…

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19 Apr 2017 Court Tells Skydiver’s Estate It Won’t Reconsider Title VII Claim

  On April 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to reconsider the estate of deceased skydiver Donald Zarda’s Title VII claim against former employer Altitude Express. Zarda filed suit claiming his employment was terminated because of his sexual orientation. Although his New York state law claim was explicitly based on sexual orientation, his Title VII claim was characterized as a sex discrimination claim.   The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment to Altitude…

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29 Sep 2016 EEOC Continues Fight Against Mandatory Flu Vaccinations for Healthcare Workers

  Just as another flu season is upon us, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is ramping up its battle against mandatory healthcare workers influenza vaccination programs by filing at least its third lawsuit this year on the subject of accommodations for individuals who profess religious objections to being vaccinated.   In EEOC v. St. Vincent Health Center, the EEOC is alleging that a Pennsylvania healthcare organization failed to accommodate the religious beliefs of six healthcare workers who sought exemptions from mandatory flu shots…

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22 Sep 2016 War Over Sexual Orientation and Title VII Rages On

  Advocates for a federal ban on sexual orientation discrimination are waging a war on multiple fronts, fighting their battles in courts across the country and seeking rulings that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, even if the statute does not specifically reference it as a protected class.   Last week in a high-profile Second Circuit case, Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., No. 16-748, defendant-appellee ad agency DDB Worldwide filed its brief claiming the court’s precedent that Title VII does not cover sexual…

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19 Aug 2016 More Flu Vaccine News: EEOC Once Again Alleges Hospital’s Mandatory Flu Vaccine Policy Violates Title VII

  For years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been silent over whether a hospital’s mandatory flu vaccine program violates Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination. The courts also generally have been silent (or have not reached decision) on the issue, with the notable exception of Robinson v. Children’s Hospital Boston, issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts earlier this year, which found that the hospital’s mandatory flu vaccine program did not violate Title VII, which was reported here.  …

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11 Jul 2016 More Flu Vaccine News – EEOC Alleges Hospital’s Mandatory Flu Vaccine Policy Violates Title VII

  As summer temperatures soar, one might think the last thing to worry about is the upcoming flu season. And while that may be true in most respects, the flu is on the minds of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A lawsuit filed by the EEOC sheds light on the issue for healthcare employers who impose mandatory flu vaccine requirements on employees as a condition of continued employment.   The EEOC alleges in EEOC v. Mission Hospital, Inc. – a lawsuit that includes class…

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06 May 2016 Transgender Bathroom Access Addressed in New EEOC Fact Sheet

In the midst of news coming out of North Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new fact sheet that addresses bathroom access rights for transgender employees. The fact sheet’s key point is that transgender employees have the right to equal access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. This right is provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s protection against sex discrimination—even if there is state law to the contrary.   Employers should note that, as…

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18 Apr 2016 Court Says Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Hospital Worker Does Not Violate Title VII

A federal court in Massachusetts recently issued an opinion that provides much needed guidance to hospitals and other healthcare institutions on whether it is permissible – under Title VII – to require mandatory influenza vaccinations for healthcare workers who object to receiving the vaccination on religious grounds.   The case started in 2011, when Children’s Hospital Boston announced that all persons who worked in or accessed patient care areas would be required to be vaccinated against the influenza virus. The requirement applied to employees, volunteers,…

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09 Mar 2016 EEOC Continues Visible Stance on Sexual Orientation Discrimination Protection

  As predicted by many, 2016 will likely be a year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will continue its push for the expansion of the rights afforded pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   This month, the EEOC filed its first two lawsuits accusing employers of gender bias for discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Specifically, both cases allege employee harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to retaliation. There are many local and…

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16 Feb 2016 Refusal to Exempt Employee from “Mark of the Beast” Hand Scanner Proves Damning for Company

  This week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) scored a victory on behalf of a man who claimed that his former employer failed to accommodate his religious beliefs. Beverly Butcher, an Evangelical Christian who had worked at a mine operated by Consolidation Coal Co. for 35 years, feared that a biometric hand scanner used to clock employees in and out of work was really a mechanism that affixed upon its users the “Mark of the Beast,” as described in the Biblical Revelations. Butcher, who…

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